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Where Is Brad Bishop?

Brad Bishop
(Photo Illustration By Todd Lindeman | The Washington Post)

In the modern, digital, hyper-vigilant world of surveillance cameras and watch lists, high-speed computer networks and satellite monitoring, sneaking out of the country is a lot more difficult than it used to be. In 1976, Kight said, it wouldn't have been hard at all, if that is what Bishop did.

"Back in those days," he said, "people would buy a plane ticket, then they couldn't make the flight, they'd give it to someone else. And then that person would fly under the other person's name."

Kight was a police officer for five years before joining the sheriff's office in 1967 and was a lieutenant in the fugitive squad when the Bishop warrant came in. The mystery of the vanished diplomat has weighed on him for three decades.

Bishop, 39, a Yale University graduate, a former Army intelligence officer and a suave dinner guest fluent in five languages, told his secretary that he wasn't feeling well March 1 and left work early. On the drive from Foggy Bottom to Bethesda, he stopped at a Sears and bought a malletlike metal hammer and a gas can, which he filled at a Texaco.

He used the hammer on his wife first, police said. She was 37. His 68-year-old mother was killed next, when she came in from walking the dog. Then he allegedly bludgeoned the boys, ages 5 to 14, as they slept.

He drove 275 miles overnight in his Chevy station wagon, police said, to swampy woods in Tyrrell County, N.C., where he piled the bodies in a bathtub-size hole, doused them with gasoline and set them on fire. He stopped at a sporting goods store in Columbia, N.C., that day, March 2. And on March 18, his car was found abandoned at a campground near the Tennessee-North Carolina border, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Did he wander into the forest, out of his mind, and die? By accident? By his own hand?

Then bears and wild boars devoured his remains.

That's one theory.

Yet no trace of him turned up in extensive searches -- no bones, no scraps of clothing.

So maybe . . .

"A new life, a new name, over in Europe," Kight said, sitting in his office recently. He shrugged. "I'm not ruling it out."

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